Journey to Banana Land
This film shows through animated diagrams and photography the more important phases of banana culture.
The journey begins by leaving the United States and sailing to the Caribbean area. A map shows the countries and locates some of the important cities in Middle America (Central America). This area from Mexico to Colombia, from the Dominican Republic to Guatemala, is shown as including hot, wet lowland regions, coastal lands covered with jungles, and mountainous regions with volcanoes. The journey stops in a typical city and shows natives drawing water from the public fountains, selling products in open markets, attending church, visiting with friends, and shopping. In outlying districts descendants of the ancient Mayas grow maize, prepare coffee beans for market, and care for cocoa trees.
The journey finally reaches its destination -- a banana plantation in the wet, hot lowlands of Middle America. The historical background of the development and spread of the banana is given. The film shows workers clearing a jungle for the plantation and setting out plants. A series of animated diagrams illustrates the growth of the banana plant from the time the rootstock is planted until the plant is fully grown, fourteen months later.
The harvesting of bananas is done by a team of three men -- the cutter, who cuts the plant just below the bunch of bananas; the backer, who catches the bunch and carries it to the toad; and the mule-man, who loads the fruit on a pack mule or cart. The fruit is harvested while it is still green.
The next sequence shows bananas being repeatedly dipped in tanks of water to clean them and then being taken by train to the port. Here they are carried by conveyor belts into air-conditioned holds of ships which transport them to the United States. Special banana trains distribute them to all parts of the country, where they are then put in ripening rooms. When they are ripened, they are sold through retail stores.
The concluding sequences show people enjoying bananas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and between meals. As a youngster prepares a banana milk shake for an afternoon snack, the recipe and directions for making it are given.
Such incidental information as explanation of Spanish words, remarks addressed directly to the audience, and illustrative shots of people and places adds to the richness of the experience which the film provides. [Educational Screen, June 1951]
This film tells the story of bananas -- a "modern treasure" -- as they make their way from the tropics to your breakfast table. It takes great pains to point out that people like the Conquistadors merely took things from Central America, while people like the United Fruit Company "bring 20th century living" and "greater purchasing power" to the jungle wilderness. This film has the look and feel of a travelogue, which was obviously intentional. It had its premier showing aboard the S.S. Talamanca of United Fruit's "Great White Fleet." (KS)
Some of the footage is almost National Geographic in quality.
Opening title card: "Travel with us on the Great White Fleet and meet your neighbors in Middle America. See how they live and grow. Follow the banana right back to your home."
Crashing surf on the Caribbean.
Central America, the Caribbean and parts of South America highlighted on a map.
Guatamala City aerials and streets;
Apartments; going to church; water fountain with women filling urns; teeming markets;
Peppers, potatoes, tomatoes; Indian families;
Highlands of Guatemala; Guatamalan volcano (not identified)
Pack mules; excellent spotted pigs; washday in a public square; Mayan Indians; cornfields and picking corn; oxen pulling plow; cocoa tree; drying cocoa beans in sun; coffee beans being picked; carts full of coffee beans; irrigation of banana plants; plantations; planting bananas; animation of root growth; excellent footage of workers; rows of cut banana bunches;
Railroads: great shot underneath very tall train trestle;
Bananas on conveyor belts being loaded onto ship; green bananas being ripened;
Ship's whistle being blown; ship's wake; locomotive;
Supermarket produce section; bananas in home; family meal ; cold cereal with bananas; school cafeterias; banana milk shake; desserts; child eating
Produce Central America Latin America Agriculture Harvesting United Fruit Company Multinational corporations Imports and exports Indians Indigenous peoples Corn Animation Diagrams Laborers Shipping Transportation Nutrition Eating Snacks Railroads
Subject: Paul Reubens used this film
Subject: Children's Educational Film?
But politics aside, as a former elementary school teacher, I found myself wondering whom United Fruit's intended audience was for this film. The subject matter and tone suggest to me this could have been intended for use with elementary school children. I say this because part of our California early grades curriculum involves learning about commerce, and how products are brought from farm to table, so to speak. So this film could fit right in with that unit. I can imagine it must have been an important theme even in the 50s.
In any event, it really makes one appreciate the humble banana!
Subject: important historical film
Subject: No mascot though
Subject: UFC: Rotten Fruit.
Subject: I miss this film!